Engineer Hamed Olugbenga Babajide Lawal, popularly known as ‘HOB Lawal’, is a man of many parts and a go-getter who has defied odds to become a renowned humanitarian. A certified engineer, a devout Muslim and a leader of reserved humanitarian club- the Lions Club International. His track record as an engineer of the highest order and a committed humanitarian endeared people of the finest caliber to him.
This was evident when resourceful men and women from other African countries joined him to mark his 70th birthday commemoration and launching of his new book and foundation.
The Saturday morning of February 22, 2020, was a special day for family and friends of Engineer HOB Lawal as they trooped out in colourful attires into the Oluwatoyin Lion Club House to join him on the special occasion of his 70th birthday celebration.
The venue’s gate was lined up with assorted cars carefully parked in orderly manner and private burly looking security men screened the entrance to ensure only guests with invites make it through the entrance.
In the compound were blue colour tents where two different catering services pitched with their cooking utensils and food connoisseurs busily labour on cooking. The reception to the main hall was decorated with tables and chairs where a set of organisers engaged in executing the programme plans.
The interior of the main venue was specially decorated with blue colour ribbons. Deep blue and sky blue ribbons were craftily woven together on the four sides of the walls. The sitting arrangement was orderly marked as the high table took the centre stage from where everyone can strategically see the special guests of honour and the celebrant.
The high table had a backdrop of a live size banner which depict the celebrant’s burst and the new book to be launched. On both sides of the high table were lushly decorated tables with candle lights and a live band crew were at alert.
The cozy looking room was attended by well-dressed organisers and their ushers of fine looking maids. The programme was well planned and orderly managed that one would believe it’s happening in Europe.
The well-planned and managed event was graced by top society men, academics, traditional rulers, international businessmen, professionals and distinguished members of the Lions Club International. Some of the guests came all the way from the Democratic Republic of Congo to celebrate Engineer HOB Lawal. While the event’s compere welcomed the honourable guests, the celebrant, his close associates and the traditional rulers were occupying the high table.
The opening prayer and introduction of the dignitaries were followed by the chairman’s of the occasion’s opening remarks. A group of little children all dressed in pink ballet suits trickled to the floor and made some special display. The guests smiled on while the pretty children performed their rehearsed choreography.
While the compere intermittently recognised some special dignitaries in the gathering, some were walking in. the celebrant, Engineer HOB Lawal was invited to the floor for his formal citation. The enigma walked majestically to the centre floor and stood in his brown colour agbada attire. The announcer, in a rich voice, read through the celebrant’s résumé while the crowd listened in rapt attention. By the end of the citation, a set of fireworks was triggered off and they sparkled in fireflies around him while a light music played from the background by the disc jockey. Everyone clapped when the celebrant performed an obeisance towards the high table where the Ayangburen of Ikorodu and the Adegboruwa of Igbogbo sat.
The chief book reviewer for the occasion Professor Tunde Makanju took over the podium in a dignified fashion and eloquently spoke about the author who was marking his 70th birthday and a secondary school mate. They have known themselves since their childhood days in secondary school, worked closely and met on several occasions, these antecedents gave the professor an insight into the book.
Professor Tunde Makanju narrated the remarkable moments between them and expatiate on certain points written in the book (The Instinctive Iman). The professor’s eruditely description of the life of the author and the book brought the distinguished gathering into laughter and smiles whenever he used pun. When he finished the book review, the audience couldn’t help but cheer the professor in rounds of applause.
The special guest of honour for the occasion, Gomes Sir Alexis-Vincent who travelled down all the way from the Democratic Republic of Congo, was invited to deliver his goodwill message. The fair skin gentleman and his delectable interpreter took the microphones. Mr. Gomes spoke in French while the pretty interpreter helped the Nigerian audience to understand his speech in English. The chief guest appreciated his Nigerian friend, HOB Lawal and lauded him for his great personal qualities. He wished him more blessings as he was about to launched a humanitarian foundation.
The guest of honour’s speech was followed by the formal launching of the book and the non-governmental foundation. The distinguished members of the high table majestically moved to the corner of the room, which was opposite the high table where a bookshelf containing copies of the book (The Instinctive Imam) was positioned for the book launch.
The author and his friends lined up on one side while the royal fathers stood across. The formalities were cut while the Ayangbure of Ikorodu gave a brief speech about the celebrant and the book. Oba Kabiru Shotobi told the gathering that he has adopted Engineer Lawal an indigene of Ikorodu. “The Ijebus seem not to know his (Engineer HOB Lawal’s) so I am adopting him formally to be our son in Ikorodu.”
The progressive Ayangbure offered Engineer Lawal a chieftaincy title and urged him to come for the traditional installation. After that, the Adeboruwa of Igbogbo, Oba Semiudeen Kasali delivered a concise speech in honour of the celebrant. The official launching of the book and the HOB Lawal Foundation was done amidst applause and cheers.
The book,“Rhe Instinctive Iman,” is an autobiography of Engineer HOB Lawal and his belief in divine providence as Allah sustained him through difficult times, in spite the untimely demise of his father. The author survived a family jinx (untimely death) which has affected his family members in the past, it was noted that many of his family members, including his father, and sister, died at age forty.
He survived this dark period and overcame hardship to become a certified engineer and a company owner. The celebrant rose from being a worker to become a job provider. The HOB Lawal Foundation was established with the aims to providing support to Lions Club International and to provide support services to the Nigerian Institute of Civil Engineers.
The foundation will cater for needs of his Alma mata Ijebu Muslim College through Ijebu Muslim College Old Students Association (IMCOSA). By organising annual lectures/events, the foundation aims at providing services to Ijebu land through Ijebu-Ode Metropiltan Club and Egbe Bobajolu of Ijebu land.
Generous donations were made by the distinguished guests. The chief guests Mr. Alexis-Vincent Gomes donated the sum of $17, 000 (seventeen thousand US dollars). The Ijebu-Ode Metropolitan Club donated N500, 000 (five hundred thousand naira) while two different groups donated five million naira each.
Lots of donations ranging from five hundred thousand naira to several hundreds of thousands were made to the HOB Lawal Foundation.
Specially branded envelopes for the donation were distributed and received with undisclosed amounts of donations.
When the donation euphoria doused down, the celebrant was invited to cut the birthday cake. Many friends, business associates, club members and his wives took turn to pose with the cake which bore his portrait. While the photo session was going on, groups and individuals kept presenting portraits of the celebrant in different sizes. Members of the Nigerian Institution of Civil Engineers, Lagos Chapter, brought a life-size portrait of HOB Lawal. About three other groups also brought similar portrait sizes to him. During this time, the guests were being served choice local delicacies.
Engineer HOB Lawal has an impressive track record as a professional engineer and a genuine humanitarian. He served as Chairman of the Civil Engineering Division of the Nigerian Society of Engineers between 2000 and 2001 and the association which transformed under his leadership to the Nigerian Institution of Civil Engineers. He is currently the President of the Ikorodu Chamber of Commerce, and founder and Managing Director/CEO of Consteng Limited, a construction company with many structural projects in Lagos. His business head office is domiciled in Igbogbo-Ikorodu and most of his time and assets are established here in Ikorodu